Bangladesh National Health Accounts, an overview on the public and private expenditures in health sector

The fifth Bangladesh National Health Accounts (BNHA) 1997-2015 data presented an overview on the all public and private expenditures in health sector, showing need of significant steps that have to be taken for reducing households out-of-pocket (OOP) health related expenditures and also to address regional disparities in health expenditure .The estimated BNHA total health expenditure per capita increased from US$ 27 in 2012 to US$ 37 in 2015. However, Bangladesh still spends only 3.0% of its GDP in health sector while government health expenditure in relation to GDP is only 0.69% placing Bangladesh among the countries that least spends on health in South-East Asia Region (SEAR).

It is estimated that 67% of total health expenditure, is met by households OOP, which is the highest in this region, followed by India with 62% and far away from Maldives with its 18%. Out of the OOP in Bangladesh almost 69.4% was spent on medicines; hence out of the total health spending in the country, 46% (almost half) corresponds to expenditure on medicines and medical products.

The BNHA shows that there are considerable regional disparities in health expenditure of Bangladesh. Dhaka division consumed 46% of the total health expenditure where Barisal and Sylhet divisions consumed only 4% respectively.

The State Minister of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) of Bangladesh reassured their commitment to take necessary initiatives to increase public funding in tackling OOP. He also reiterated the importance of social health protection to reduce OOP to an a significant level by 2030 in order to make substantial progress towards UHC and the SDGs.

Health Economics Unit of the MOHFW has been producing national health accounts regularly using a globally accepted methodology since 1997 to track the countries health expenditures and to shape health financing policies accordingly.

Bangladesh National Health Accounts 1997-2015 was conducted with support from the World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation and World Health Organization (WHO).